Writing Research with VS Code

I started writing research papers using LaTeX early this year. Recently though, I wanted to improve my research writing setup. I found myself looking for a better cloud-saving solution than using Overleaf, and came across this great Medium article regarding what is essentially a local version equivalent to Overleaf. A bonus is, if you are using Overleaf premium, this set up can still integrate with Overleaf from your local machine. I’m not using Overleaf premium, however, this allows continuous Git syncing, essentially solving the issue of saving to the cloud, and adding version control. There is one major caveat with this article’s instructions, though.



I followed the no-gui setup for MacOS mentioned in the above linked article. However, it may be a bit outdated, in that it immediately tells you 

“to update the LaTeX packages with the tlmgr command line tool that already comes with MacTeX.”


Don’t do this as the no-gui version for Mac actually requires some PATH file additions. Using these additions solved the problem for me on my Mac: https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/504383/getting-texlive-2019-installation-to-work-on-macos
Once these additions have been made, ensure you have restarted your terminal session completely, refreshing the PATH file. Then you can run the updates mentioned in the article. 


  • The installation will take a fair amount of time, even with no gui. The no-gui version of course is a little bit faster to install, but don’t think it is not working if it seems like the terminal is hanging. This whole process including finding the solution to updates took a bit over an hour for me (ish). 
  • The updates alone also take a large amount of time, in addition to the original installation time
  • This specific article surrounds VS Code. However, I’m sure you can follow nearly all of this article, and when they use VS Code, use an editor of your choice, as I know LaTeX extensions exist for the other popular editors.


This will be handy when using LaTeXdiff as well, as your files will be local and immediately accessible to run the script on. Additionally this may help with organization of versions as you can create Git branches and work from wherever you need to.


Oh and get a spell check extension, like this one: https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=streetsidesoftware.code-spell-checker

And a word counter: https://marketplace.visualstudio.com/items?itemName=geoffkaile.latex-count


Using Format